Neighbourhoods can be a valuable source of community support, and, during the pandemic particularly, they’ve made huge differences in helping people survive and providing emotional encouragement.
Good Neighbours of York Region Association, centred in Markham, is one of the organizations that aims to unite more residents to participate in community activities, guide the elderly to get out of their homes and integrate into society.
Founded in July 2019, for much of the time the association has been overshadowed by COVID-19.
Yinyin Lam, the founder and permanent honorary president of the association, said her original intention was to enrich the lives of York Region residents through various outdoor activities for everyone to relieve depression. However, the pandemic has forced most of the plans to be virtual.
“We used to have some cheongsam catwalk shows and tai chi exercises in the park, which were very popular among the senior members,” said Lam.
But after the outbreak of COVID-19, these activities and other workshops and seminars can only be carried out in Zoom.
On Oct. 16, Good Neighbours held its second anniversary celebration and the appointment ceremony of new presidents and committee members. David Zhou and Jack Chen were elected as the new co-presidents. People were just thrilled to be reviving the party.
Looking back over the past two years, Zhou believes that the pandemic has brought a lot of challenges to the operation of the association, but at the same time, due to COVID-19, people trapped at home can only communicate with the outside world through the internet, which has increased the cohesion of people and made them cherish such a platform even more.
“Our community are made stronger when kind-hearted individuals go the extra mile to care for our neighbours and enhance the well-being of others,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, who thanked everyone in the association for making a positive difference and championing incredible diversity of the vibrant community.
As the government continues to relax restrictions on COVID-19, Good Neighbours of York Region Association has begun to host more off-line gatherings. On Aug. 29, for example, it held a fun sports meeting at Berczy Park in Markham.
The competitions included bowling, hula hoop, shuttlecock kicking, mini tug of war, and others. “We have been social distancing for a long time; people look forward to going out to meet and participate in group activities, which made everyone very happy,” Lam said.
“More events like this will be held in the future,” Chen said, “We are working hard to cater to all ethnic groups, enriching everyone's spiritual and cultural life, and making our association a ‘good neighbour’ that everyone can rely on.”
He also added that Good Neighbours of York Region Association welcomes people of different backgrounds and ages to join its regular activities, such as singing, dancing and hiking, to give full play to the spirit of neighbourhood watch and mutual assistance, and to establish opportunities for interaction between neighbours.
Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun